The decision to end a marriage is usually painful for the parties. Obtaining the divorce can be stressful and contentious. At the Rockland County law firm of Montalbano, Condon & Frank, P.C., our lawyers handle all aspects of divorce. We are able to guide clients through the process so they can move forward with their lives. Even when the divorce is uncontested, it is important to consult with an attorney to ensure all the legal requirements are met.
How the divorce process starts
A divorce action can begin in two different ways, one formal, through the court, the other less formal, through negotiation. Our firm can guide you through the process if formal pleadings are necessary, but we are also experienced in resolving divorces through negotiation and settlement. If you and your spouse are amenable to an uncontested divorce, our attorneys can draft a letter on your behalf to your spouse, informing him or her about your rights and interests. We are also adept at acting on your behalf if formal litigation becomes necessary.
An important step in divorce proceedings is the preliminary conference. This allows the parties to identify the issues they can resolve themselves and those that may need to be tried or for which discovery is necessary. If there are issues on which the parties agree, interim orders may be issued at this time.
In addition to narrowing the issues, the preliminary conference is also important in establishing a timetable for discovery and, if necessary, trial. Financial statements and other products of the discovery process will typically have to be exchanged to resolve the issues, and our attorneys are known for their thorough discovery. We employ financial experts such as forensic accountants and other witnesses to determine what assets exist and/or their value. This is important for dividing the marital property, determining the separate property, and calculating maintenance (alimony) and child support.
Collaborative law is a new approach to resolving family law issues, emphasizing civility and truthfulness over confrontation. In essence, it functions much like mediation, except that lawyers are directly involved, along with experts shared by the parties, such as accountants and real estate appraisers. Though each party has his or her own attorney, those attorneys must withdraw if negotiations to resolve the issues amicably are not successful. Our firm has attorneys who have been trained in collaborative law, and they can work with you to use the collaborative process to gain more control over the terms and timetable of the eventual settlement. By avoiding litigation, you may also be able to lessen the tensions and be able to cooperate more easily in the future over the long term, something that is especially desirable when children are involved.
Calculating child support
It is also important to know the financial situation of each party when there are children involved. Calculating child support correctly requires that all income and assets be disclosed.
The role of pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements
Although we seek to make every matrimonial law matter as smooth as possible, we are also vigorous when defending our clients’ rights. Many clients have pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements that describe financial settlements to be made in the event of a divorce or death. Especially when there are significant assets involved, the process is speeded when a prenup or postnup has been drafted.